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On Beyond Webpapers

Anne Dalke's picture


For 10 years now, I been asking all my students to post their papers on-line. Now I'm beginning to wonder if it's time for us to move "on beyond...."?

Inspired by Sir Ken Robinson's animated production of Changing Education Paradigms I've begun to gather, from the Serendip archives and elsewhere, some possibilities to prime the pump:



Seniors Blogging...
A Moment's Ornament (Summer 2011)
Seeing Stigma (Spring 2011)
Mooring Gaps: Marianne Moore's Bryn Mawr Poetry (Spring 2010)

From "Gender, Information, Science and Technology" (Spring 2011):

E-Waste, Technology and Information, and the related
Reality--Stranger than Fiction: A Cyberpunk Distortion of Guiyu, China.

The Rebirth of Penus

Seeing the Rainbow: Modeling Sex, Gender and Sexuality Spectrums

"Facing the Facts" (Fall 2010):

Coming at Poetry from Two Directions (plus reflections on
working together and what it's like to work with another student)

Facts Don't Exist//A Graphic Narrative

More HeLa, Less Henrietta Lacks

From "The House of Wits" (Spring 2010):
Mind the Gaps

A Year of Living Pringle-Free, as Inspired by William James

From Gender and Technology (Spring 2009):
multi-media projects

From The Story of Evolution/The Evolution of Stories (Spring 2005): 
My Great-granddaddy was a Monkey

More forthcoming!


Mixdaugh's picture

Thank you very much for the invitation

Thank you very much for the invitation :). Best wishes.
PS: How are you?

alesnick's picture

on "cross-Serendipping" classes, or writings

Hi -- I have learned and taught via Serendip happily and gratefully for many years.  I too have recently been thinking how exciting it would be if on-campus folks -- students, faculty, staff -- were oriented to reading and responding to one another's writing across, not only within, courses, working groups, or specific projects.  What about a place for students, and faculty, in different esems, for example, to share their writing -- not in the image of traditional publication, but in the spirit, as Paul says, of making thoughts-in-progress public?  I think the idea of making more dense and complex the various "real" connections to various "real" worlds would be exciting. Another idea would be to create some forums on Serendip on large themes, something like, "surprise" or "self-knowledge" or "re-examining difference" and inviting people to contribute to these "themed issues" -- contribute texts and comments --



ckosarek's picture

Let's make the conversation larger & more tangible


While writing a final paper for my Contemporary African Literature class, I ended up "Googling" the effects of marijuana on the brain (I was writing about pathological gambling in a text and comparing it to chemical addiction). The first "hit" that popped up in my search was a Serendip webpaper written in 2006. Further, several listings below the initial Serendip one had actually cited the webpaper; the paper appeared in forums, blogs, and other forms of internet media. In four years, the paper had left the confines of the classroom and found itself as a reference for other works. 

So where do we go from here? As seen with the example above, I think Serendip has effectively allowed classes at BMC to communicate with the larger virtual world. But I have to ask - have we effectively communicated with our larger academic community on campus? As far as webpapers go, perhaps putting students not only in conversation with Internet users, but with their own peers in other classes might be a way to expand upon the traditional sense of the academic paper. Just as classes are cross-listed, would it be possible to cross-Serendip classes? As an English major, I've noticed that many of my English courses feed into one another. The courses are in communication in my mind, yet I cannot put them into any real communication. What if, for example, my African Lit class was linked electronically to my Nonfiction Prose class so that members of both classes posted on the same forum or had access to each others' papers? I'm not saying that students have to take both of the linked classes (in fact, it would probably be better that they don't), but rather that putting two related topics being taught on the same campus into conversation might lead to an expansion of our postings and webpapers.  As it stands, the webpapers encourage us to draw references from the virtual world. I'd like to see them start to connect the "real" (nonvirtual?) world as well, starting with allowing classes to engage in conversation. 

Ann Dixon's picture

Serendip, webpapers and the world

Thanks for posting about your experience with googling and finding a Serendip webpaper! Serendip now has a a huge collection of webpapers which have generated worldwide discussion. I'm always looking for a new way to make the collection more accessible and relevant to current thinking, so please keep brainstorming.

You do have access to webpapers from other classes, but they are difficult to find. Would a listing of titles of papers from other courses, inside your own course, be enough to ascertain interest? Or do you need more - a teaser, keywords, some way to know if there is a good likelihood of significant intersection of ideas?


ckosarek's picture

In response...

 I think a great place to start would be with an index of the webpapers on Serendip. I know that I probably wouldn't have stumbled upon that Serendip paper about marijuana unless I had specifically looked for it. Serendip should not be a place of searching for something specific, per se, but rather a search for anything interesting. Having an easily-accessed index would certainly allow for a "search for the interesting" to be cultivated. Also, on Serendip (as well as on other websites that feature blogs, such as tumblr, writings and images are all "tagged" with topics that pertain to them. For example, a flower might be tagged with "#flower, #pink, #rose, #wedding." Perhaps we could encourage those posting on Serendip to utilize the tagging function of the site more often, thus making it easier to search using keywords and "teasers." 

As far as linking classes goes, (as alesnick wrote above), I think linking like classes in forums that cover broad topics featured in those classes would be a great start to creating an online, academic campus discussion. I think students have this misconception that classes exist separately from one another (what does my Behavior Analysis class have to do with my Latin class?), but this isn't the case. An education is the compilation - the end result of what all your classes add up to. I would like to see my classes compile themselves before graduation so that I can benefit from the cross-sections, linkages, and contradictions in the context of the larger undergraduate Bryn Mawr community.